A radical renovation

This run-down milk yard was transformed into an innovative home using unorthodox materials

By Hugh Metcalf | 2 December 2020

Tracy and Steve Fox, who appeared on Grand Designs in 2014, took on the transformation of a run-down yard in south-east London. They created an innovative home that Kevin McCloud described as ‘part agricultural barn, part industrial shed’.

Tracy and Steve  originally decided to self-build in 2012. Having worked on a lot of radical renovations in the past, the couple felt the timing was right for a new project. They wanted to build a workshop and studio, and this began the Grand Designs urban shed project.

The plot on which they would build was found purely by chance. This occurred after Tracy struck up a conversation with a local developer who owned the freehold to a yard adjacent to a development project.

Rodeca cladding covers the house while plants litter the courtyard at the centre of the Urban Shed

The house is clad in a polycarbonate material allowing light to flood the space. Photo: Matt Chisnall

Finding an architect

With the land secured, Tracy and Steve started looking for an architectural designer who could put their ideas on paper. They got in touch with Jonathan Tuckey Design: ‘We liked the materials that the company had used in previous projects and their type of architecture,’ says Tracy. The couple then set about discussing their brief with the firm. ‘Our previous house was like a glass white box, so we didn’t want it to be similar to that,’ says Tracy.

‘Fundamentally, it’s called The Yard, and we wanted that to be reflected in the architecture.’ Some key priorities were a music room and a his-and-hers studio workspace, both filled with lots of natural daylight. Steve is an artist, while Tracy needed somewhere with lots of room where she could renovate and reupholster furniture.

Watch the episode: South east London, 2014

Exposed blockwork on both levels looks raw and unrefined within the Grand Designs urban shed

Exposed brickwork in the living space helps create a raw and unrefined look. Photo: Matt Chisnall